Emory University conferred degrees on 4,615 students at its 172nd commencement exercises on Monday, May 8, as the Class of 2017 celebrated their graduation. Commencement began with a university-wide ceremony on Emory’s Quadrangle, which featured an address by former U.S. Poet Laureate and outgoing Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing Natasha Trethewey.

Afterward, Candler graduates moved to Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church for their diploma ceremony. Candler conferred a total of 147 degrees this year, which included 89 Master of Divinity, nine Master of Theology, 14 Master of Theological Studies, five Master of Religion and Public Life, three Master of Religious Leadership, one Master of Divinity/Master of Public Health, one Master of Theological Studies/Master of Public Health, two Master of Theological Studies/Juris Doctor, 22 Doctor of Ministry, and one Doctor of Theology degrees.

In her opening remarks, Dean Jan Love recognized Librarian and Margaret A. Pitts Professor of Theological Bibliography M. Patrick Graham, who is retiring this year after 29 years at Candler’s Pitts Theology Library.

The dean recognized Bandy Professor of Preaching Teresa L. Fry Brown as the recipient of the Emory Williams Teaching Award, the highest teaching award granted by Emory University. The award honors faculty for fostering participation, inquiry, and creative expression in the classroom, providing a model for teaching and scholarship, and serving as a mentor to students. Dean Love also presented the Exemplary Teacher Award, sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, to Elizabeth Corrie, director of the Youth Theological Initiative and associate professor in the practice of youth education and peacebuilding. This award recognizes outstanding faculty members for their contributions to the learning arts and to the institution.

In her formal address, Dean Love acknowledged the many contributions that Candler’s Class of 2017 has brought to the school and university, including a commitment to social justice work, inspirational worship and preaching, the founding of Wesleyan “class meetings” for intentional faith development, helping to modernize Emory’s decades-old student government structure, and more than 80% participation in the senior class gift campaign—the highest rate of giving in Candler’s recent history, totaling more than $15,000 to support scholarships and student programming, including the creation of the Fund for Justice and Inclusion. Love particularly recognized the 22 Doctor of Ministry graduates, the first cohort to graduate from the newly revised online/hybrid DMin program.

Love also read from Matthew 28:16-20 and Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples to make disciples of all nations.

“Go now with diploma in hand to your next great adventure,” Love said. “Go change the world in Jesus’ name. Go, knowing that the Candler community will support you all along the way. Go with the assurance that in times when you flourish and in times when you flounder, you are always held close in God’s loving arms. We’re counting on you to be the exceptional leaders we know you already are.”

Photos by Cindy Brown 09T.